"The Realm is the colossus that bestrides Creation. Magnificent, sprawling, it embodies all the glory and excess of Imperial Britain or Dynastic China. Each year, an ocean of blood is shed by its wars. Every month, a civilization is ground into dust under its booted feet. Every day, ten thousand men die with its name upon their lips, as sacrament or as curse. Cultures shattered, tongues forgotten, cities carved from earth and sky; high society, silver mountains, fields salted, fire and sword: all these lie within the grand sweep of its history. On the toil of untold millions, the Realm stands as a shining, bloodstained beacon of human and superhuman achievement. It is an empire of horror and grandeur."
— The Prelude
is a Spacebattles quest thread created and told in the second person by Rihaku, set in the Exalted
world, dubbed Creation. The story-only thread can be viewed here
, while the former link is used to vote on a course of action for the protagonist. Decisions are made in a semi-democratic fashion, but the GM may choose to grant greater weight to elaborate and well-articulated arguments.
The following is taken from the introductory post of the quest:
You are Ulyssian, born to House Sesus of the Dynasty
. As a citizen of the Realm, you've been taught from birth to idolize and aspire to its heroes: the Exalted of the Immaculate Dragons
. Princes of the Earth and capable of superhuman feats, they hold every privilege and position of significance - social, spiritual, or military. Many children dream of Exaltation, but the Dragon-Blooded
are not made, they are born
. The overwhelming majority of Dragon-Blooded Exalt before the age of seventeen.
As you approach your nineteenth year, it became increasingly clear that you were not an Exalt born. Though you are doomed to mere humanity, however, you have not resigned yourself to mediocrity. With the reinstatement of Headmaster Zao
, the Imperial Naval Academy has returned to his unusual merits-only entry exam. For the first time in many decades, there is the possibility of a fully-commissioned mortal officer. Of course, the inherent skill of the Dragon-Blooded has always meant that such an exam was no barrier to a full class of Exalts
. Who ever heard of a mortal commanding a Prince of the Earth?
No one, until you arrived. Somehow, you managed to attain a score in the top ten percentile of a field composed entirely of Exalts. Somehow, you were accepted.
Since your acceptance, you've arrived at the Naval Academy and were placed, among with four others, under the coveted supervision of Headmaster Zao
himself. This is a position that has lead to no little jealousy and resentment from many of your classmates, especially given your status as a mere mortal. Nonetheless you have persevered, determined to prove to the Realm and yourself
that though you are not Exalted, you are not their lesser.The Empress
may have disappeared, but the power of her eleven Dynastic Houses
has waxed if anything. As a Dynast, near-royalty, you were expected to Exalt early. Your cousins and friends certainly did, for all that they worked one-tenth your share. Every year you did not, your parents and mentors turned their attention ever-so-slightly away
, until the age of your majority, when you were a Dynast in name only. Determined to prove yourself worthy of that name, you redoubled your efforts and redoubled them again. You were not handed your power. You were not born into it. Through hard work and excruciating practice, you will earn it
- Academy of Adventure: The Imperial Naval Academy attended by the protagonist definitely qualifies.
- Action Girl: Notably Reminiscent Ivory, who defeated an Anathema, but Empty Moon and every other female Dragon-Blooded qualifies to some degree.
- Alternate Universe: This is a crossover, though nobody knows what it's being crossed with.
- Always Second Best: This Ulyssian's defining trope; he is forever striving to equal and surpass his more powerful classmates, who are all Exalted.
- Awesome by Analysis: Ulyssian has spent thousands of hours battling and observing the Dragon-Blooded, allowing him a great understanding of their capabilities. In fact, it allows him to identify Nilul as an Anathema after a single sparring session with her.
- Awesome yet Practical: Daiklaves, giant blades on sticks, seem impractical until you realize that's the best way to leverage the superhuman strength of the combatants.
- Badass: Basically everybody, Ulyssian included. His mastery of essence is very near the peak of what is possible for a mortal, which is an absolutely tremendous feat.
- Combat Pragmatist: Ulyssian's preparations for his duel with Jael included, but weren't limited to: poisoning him with contact poison via his armor, breaking into his apartment to steal his money, then placing it in a trash chute to separate him from his twin (neutralizing his Gemini bloodline), and hiring a sorcerer to summon demons to ambush him.
- CoolMask: Ulyssian dons one during his time as the Accursed.
- Curbstomp Battle: Due to an insane spree of luck during his battle with the former Immaculate Monk Beman, Ulyssian manages to leave not only victorious, but uninjured. Beman, on the other hand, left with a gash running across his chest and missing an arm.
- Played straight once again later in the story, but with Ulyssian on the receiving end. After going to great lengths to sabotage and weaken his opponent Jael, he still looses quite handily to him, to the point that he would have died in the first few seconds had Jael not shown restraint.
- Deal with the Devil: Overlaps with Grey and Gray Morality. In preparation for the aftermath of the destruction of organized crime, Ulyssian calls in his Uncle Nagazzer, a known drug dealer and human trafficker, as well has the head of his own crime syndicate, to assume control afterwards. Though this does return Seacrown to criminal influence, he also extracts a promise from him that he'll tone down the rampancy of crime, has well has return some of the money made back to the community.
- Decoy Protagonist: Ulyssian Was chosen for a grand destiny, one that would change and save the Realm... the catch? He isn't the hero, he isn't even the villain.. just a mortal who's singular purpose in the eyes of the Sidereal was to stoke the flames of rage and ambition in Resolute Flame..
- Defeat Means Friendship: Subverted in the very first fight of the story. Ulyssian defeats Resolute Flame, but recent events have shown that this only makes his enemy more determined.
- Determinator: Ulyssian, full stop. He's worked himself to the bone, incessantly pulling eighteen hour days filled with studying and combat practice, desperately grasping for any possible advantage.
- Elemental Powers: The Dragon-Blooded each have limited command of one of the five elements, which encompass the traditional four with wood tacked on for good measure.
- Emotionless Girl: Empty Moon qualifies, but beneath her implacable exterior lies a brilliant and idealistic girl with a love of legends.
- From Bad to Worse: Not only is Ulyssian a second class citizen in the Realm who stands an extremely high chance of dying in a futile effort to prove himself, he's now been commanded to abandon his dreams by a fanatical member of the clergy.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zao, the Headmaster of the Imperial Naval Academy. His initial address to the assembled class consists of telling them that they're all going to die horrible deaths in service of the Realm. Despite this, he really does mean well.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: The curse of being Ulyssian; despite determination that leaves the rest of his peers in the dust, he can never match up to those who were gifted with Exaltation. His is a bitter and terrible plight.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Members of the Immaculate Order and other martially inclined Dragon-Blooded.
- Properly Paranoid: Played with. To avoid possible sabotage by Jael, he not only sleeps in his friend Saery's closet, he also hires a sorcerer to impersonate him for the day prior to the duel.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Zao seems to have avoided it this time around.
- Or not. In a last ditch attempt to stop his daugher undergoing both actual and mind rape 'for the greater good', a dying Zao performs a Heroic Sacrifice to power up the recently Exalted Ulyssian.
- Parental Abandonment: Not outright, but Ulyssian has been noticeably ostracized by House Sesus due to his failure to Exalt.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Many of the elder Exalted.
- Right Makes Might: Averted to hell and back. Abuse of power is one of Exalted's primary themes.
- Sadistic Choice: Accept your friend's offer to fight a duel of honor in your favor, ruining his future prospects and condemning him to near-certain death? Or fight the duel yourself?
- Screw Destiny: Sesus Ulyssian will succeed or die trying.
- Super Reflexes: Basically everyone who uses Essence in combat has some version of this.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: All the various tiers of the Perfected Lotus, which range from merely parting rivers and shattering boulders to punching people in the soul and manipulating memories.
- The Spartan Way: The Naval Academy is particularly grueling and noted for working even the superhuman students to the bone.
- Vicious Cycle: The oppressed servitors of the old regime rebel against the tyranny of their purported superiors, throwing Creation into chaos, and inevitably lessening it in the process. First the Solar Exalted against the Primordials, then the Dragon-Blooded against the Solars. Where does it end?
- World of Badass: Welcome to Exalted, enjoy your stay.